At least 29 pilot whales are dead following a mass stranding on New Zealand’s South Island, according to the country’s Department of Conservation.
“It is a sad morning following the stranding of 34 pilot whales on Farewell Spit with 29 dead,” New Zealand’s Department of Conservation announced in a Facebook post on Friday morning.
The department added that officials were providing care to the other five whales in an attempt to save them, saying that “rangers along with Project Jonah senior medics are on-site providing care to the remaining live whales with the hope of refloating them. No additional help is being requested at this time.”
The department said that it will attempt to refloat the five live whales with the morning high tides but added that “the process can take some time and we may not know if it is successful or not for several hours.”
The stranding occurred on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay on the tip of New Zealand’s South Island. In February 2017, hundreds of pilot whales died after becoming beached in the same spot.
Cetacean stranding or beaching is when whales or dolphins wash up on land, often dying of dehydration as a result.